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Charlotte bodybuilder takes the vegan route to physique success
‘Bikini Doc’ sculpts with help of plant-based diet
Published Wednesday, July 3, 2019 2:14 pm
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

Dr. Harriet Davis of Novant Health switched to a plant-based diet in 2007, seven years before she became a bodybuilder.

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Muscular vegans exist.

Dr. Harriet Davis, an award-winning professional bodybuilder and family medicine physician with Novant Health, is proof. A native of Salisbury, Davis switched to a plant-based diet in 2007. She created a blog titled Vegan Bikini Doc to address common misconceptions about where vegan bodybuilders get their protein as well as how they maintain a high enough protein intake to create and maintain bodybuilding muscle.

“The first is that it’s hard to get enough protein on a vegan diet.” Davis told Novant Health’s Healthy Headlines. “This is obviously a misconception because cows and bison are two animals that are fed only plants (a vegan diet) and many people consume beef as one of their main protein sources.

Davis, who became a professional bodybuilder in 2014, has participated in over 25 competitions, and remains active in the International Federation of Bodybuilding. Her vegan journey began before her decision to become a bodybuilder.

“When I first started bodybuilding, I had been eating a vegan diet for six years so the transition was not too challenging,” Davis said. “The work I focused on was learning how to adjust my macronutrients – protein, fat, carbohydrates – to meet my bodybuilding goals. Now that veganism is so mainstream, it easier than ever to be vegan and compete in bodybuilding. But you must educate yourself on vegan nutrition first. It’s not as simple as substituting one food group for another. You must learn how to substitute those animal-based protein sources and animal-based fat sources – with plant-based options like substituting mock meats and seitan. That's a high-protein vegetarian food made from cooked wheat gluten.”

Davis’ transition to a plant-based diet came shortly after she moved to Charlotte from Virginia Beach, Virginia.

“I have never been able to digest animal products without experiencing some type of associated gastrointestinal distress,” she said. “So, as I started to become more in tune with my body, I realized that eating a plant-based diet made me feel better.”

Many confuse vegan and vegetarian. While the two are similar, the differences are distinct.

“A vegan diet is a 100% plant-based diet (no eggs, dairy or honey),” Davis said. “On the other hand, a vegetarian diet is one that’s predominantly plant-based, but you can still eat eggs, dairy and honey. In other words, the main difference between the two is in that vegetarians consume animal products or byproducts and vegans don’t.”

Another misconception is the cost of being vegan. It’s actually than the alternative.

“The fact is that it’s easier to eat plant-based on a limited budget than it is to eat a meat-centered diet,” Davis said. “Staples like grains, potatoes, bananas, and beans are some of the cheapest and healthiest things you can buy in the supermarket.”

Others mistakenly think that without consuming dairy products, such as milk, the body cannot consume enough calcium from outside sources.

“Calcium, like many minerals, naturally occurs in soil (not cows),” Davis said.

Here Davis outlines what she eats in a typical day:

Breakfast: Oats, cream of rice or vegan protein waffles

Midmorning snack: Tofu scramble

Lunch: Textured vegetable protein, brown rice (or red potatoes), broccoli (or kale or spinach)

Afternoon snack: Tempeh and fruit (avocado preferred)

Dinner: Salad with chickpeas (or black beans) and textured vegetable protein

Davis won PETA’s Sexiest Vegan Next Door in 2015. The national contest allowed her to further her reach as a bodybuilder and a primary care physician.

“I became a family medicine physician so that I could help people focus more on preventing disease and maintain their health rather than on chronic disease management,” Davis said. “One of my long-term goals is hosting/co-hosting a TV show to educate people about health, fitness and nutrition. Through this platform, I plan to make it simple for people to transition into a vegan diet.”

And here’s an example of vegan cuisine: Portobello “Steak” Fajitas recipe, courtesy of Davis:

Prep time: 10 mins

Cook time: 20 mins

Total time: 30 mins

Servings: 2-3

1 poblano pepper, seeds removed & thinly sliced
1 green bell pepper, seeds removed & thinly sliced

1 red bell pepper, seeds removed & thinly sliced

1 jalapeño, seeds removed & thinly sliced

1 yellow or white onion, cut into thin rounds

2 large or 4 baby portobello mushrooms, stems removed, washed well, patted dry & thinly sliced

2 ripe avocados

Juice of 1/2 lime

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon of garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Pinch of sea salt (for mushrooms)

1 tsp A1 steak sauce (for mushrooms)

6 small organic corn tortillas

Optional: fresh red onion, hot sauce, cilantro, salsa

1. Heat a large skillet and a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot add a dash of olive or coconut oil to the large skillet, then the onion and peppers. Then season with cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder.

2. Cook until softened and slightly caramelized, stirring often. Set aside and cover to keep warm.

3. At the same time, add a dash of oil to the medium pan, then add the mushrooms. Season with a pinch of sea salt and once softened and brown add a dash of A1 steak sauce for more flavor. Remove from heat, set aside and cover. (Yes, A1 steak sauce IS vegan-friendly. Click on the link below to see a list of vegan-friendly condiments: http://www.peta.org/living/food/condiments/

4. Prepare guacamole by adding two avocados to a bowl then adding the juice of half a lime and a generous pinch of salt. Fresh cilantro and onion is optional.
5. Warm tortillas in the microwave or oven and you’re ready to go. *I prefer warming the tortillas the oven (pre-heat the oven to 200F. Wrap the tortillas in a damp towel and place on a plate in the oven to warm up).

6. Serve the warm tortillas with peppers, onions, mushrooms, guacamole and any other toppings you desire such as salsa, hot sauce, and veggie cheese or vegan sour cream.


This is so awesome. I finally found a Charlotte medical doctor who is vegan like myself. And who is a body builder. I want to get into body building. But need to find the right person to assist in eating the right amount of proteins, carbohydrates, etc.
Posted on July 6, 2019

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